Why A Fast Website Is Important
Think about when you are searching for something online. You find a website you think will have exactly what you're looking for, and then you sit there waiting because it is slow loading.
If you are like most people, you go back to your search results after just a few seconds.
You are not alone.
And the site abandonment rate (also known as bounce rate) increases to 53% for mobile internet users.
And the three-second bounce rate numbers go up dramatically with each extra second it takes for a page to load.
So you can see from a strict business perspective why you want to make sure you have a fast load speed.
Beyond the obvious loss of prospective customers, a slow loading speed means you will sacrifice SEO performance. This is because Google, and all other search engines, have become laser-focused on the user experience on websites.
If they sense the user experience will be poor from a technical perspective, they will rank your site lower than others, even if you have a superior product and website content.
To prevent this, SEO professionals focus on website speed optimization. This is a practice that gets into the very technical parts of your site and optimizes everything on the back end to provide the same front end experience with lower wait times.
Why We Use PageSpeed Insights
To speed up a website, there has to be some quantitative metrics to improve upon. These are known as core vitals and are available from many different sources.
One popular tool for measuring and improving page speed optimization is GTmetrix. This analyzes your site and gives you a report on how to speed up your website.
However, when it comes to ranking factors, Google tends to use its own tools for measurements that affect search rankings. For page load time, this is Google PageSpeed Insights.
By using the same tool that Google uses, you know you are making the changes Google is looking for.
In fact, the use of PageSpeed Insights is more important than ever. This is because, in May 2020, Google is scheduled to start placing more emphasis on page speed as part of the Page Experience update to its search ranking algorithm.
A subset of Page Speed Experience is known as the Google Core Web Vitals. This measures specific load speeds, including how fast the page loads, how fast your site responds to user interaction, and content shifts around your page.
And like all of Google's algorithms, they will have a significant impact on search rankings. However, unlike most of Google's algorithm updates, they have actually provided advance notice of this update, scheduled to be rolled out in May 2021.
Don't worry if you don't understand all of this so long as your SEO team does. And while these are already a factor in Google's ranking algorithm, they are about to become significantly more important when the Core Web Vitals rollout in mid-2021.
What Is Google AMP and Why Is It Important?
A significant aspect of website performance optimization is considering how a mobile user will experience your website. This is specifically measured when search engines rank your website.
There has been a lot of variation over the years since mobile became a predominant ranking factor in how webmasters handle mobile users. First were independently coded websites, then came responsive design websites.
In 2015 Google introduced the AMP framework or Accelerated Mobile Pages. This was an attempt at a unified approach to how to handle mobile users.
While AMP isn't necessary for many sites, it can often be helpful.
And if you are using a WordPress Site, there is even a plugin that can make it considerably easier to implement Google AMP.
WordPress Speed Optimization
Speaking of WordPress sites, you may be wondering if there is any way to implement a website performance improvement strategy. The easy answer is yes; you can speed up a WordPress website too.
In fact, with the right expertise and experience, an SEO professional can actually do it more quickly than they can with a traditionally coded site.
This translates into a lower cost for the site speed optimization work for you, allowing you to put more of your budget into other aspects of search engine optimization.
Unfortunately, it is not only a matter of selecting a plugin at random to speed up a WordPress site. Rather, it takes the right ones being installed and configured correctly to make the difference.
First, you have to look at your WordPress host, as factors such as server resources, speed and congestion can negatively affect your loading speed.
If you do not drive a lot of traffic, rely on eCommerce, or require a lot of dedicated bandwidth for downloads, you can probably work from a shared hosting plan to save a little money.
You will most likely need to minify your CSS, implement image optimization, including using CSS sprites, and optimize your WordPress database to achieve optimal website performance optimization.
Another important factor of how quickly your website loads is the geographic distance between your visitor and the server.
While you may be located in the United States, your server may be located in India, China, or any number of other places.
This means your visitors will experience slower loading speeds just because of their location. But rather than changing your hosting provider, you can use a content delivery network, or CDN, which stores cached copies of your website on several servers.
This reduces the physical distance to a server and increases your site's load speed.
Caching plugins are also essential to WordPress speed optimization. These plugins create a static version of your website that loads when someone visits.
Without these kinds of plugins, every visit and every page load would require a database call, slowing down your visitor's experience and increasing the bandwidth needed from your hosting provider.
Rather than looking for several different plugins that collectively will do all of this, a single quality plugin like WP Rocket will allow you to do most of it from a single interface. This reduces your cost for plugins, as well as your cost for implementation and maintenance.
Speed Optimization for Non-WordPress Websites
We can also effectively optimize website speed for WordPress websites too. While performing site speed optimization for a non-WordPress site takes more web developer hours than with a WordPress site, we can still do a great job in optimizing your website. Some of the website platforms we are familiar with include Drupal, ShowMe, Wix and Squarespace. And while due to the additional work, there will be additional cost, we are still a great choice to take care of your non-wordpress site speed issues.
Why Choose Us to
Speed Up Your Website
At NewStar SEO, we love working on website speed optimization. Many of our clients come to us because of our expertise working with WordPress sites and our ability to reduce the cost of page speed optimization because we understand how to deploy it quickly.
Our team is constantly monitoring the changes in the search algorithms, including the coming Page Experience update. This means you never have to worry about our team being behind the ball or offering outdated website performance improvement strategies.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can start by running your site through the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. If not, give us a call, and allow us to give you some information on how your website speed is currently and the ways to improve it.
You can also take advantage of our free SEO audit and look at your overall opportunities to increase your business through better search performance.
Page loading speed is already important. And it's about to become significantly more important. So contact us today and get a free, no-obligation website audit to make sure you are getting the best performance (and new business) from your website.